Summertime and Disneyland Resort. It’s a combination my family looks upon as a rite of summer passage: long, luxurious days of thrilling rides, delectable treats, character-spotting, and the electricity of nightfall and dazzling fireworks. We always look forward to our favorite attractions and can’t wait to see what the Imagineers have dreamed up for us each season.
This summer is shaping up to be completely AMAZING as the Summer of Heroes supercharges Disney’s California Adventure Park. Think of it as the usual memorable dose of Disney magic injected with Marvel superhero energy, like special interactive experiences, awesome character meet-ups, themed grub, and the epic Guardians of the Galaxy–Mission: BREAKOUT. The Summer of Heroes brings both permanent and limited-time experiences to the California Adventure Hollywood Backlot and, on a recent visit, completely captivated my own little superheroes. Here are our not-to-miss experiences so you, too, can Hero Up your summer, Disney-style.
Guardians of the Galaxy–Mission BREAKOUT
Let’s start with the main attraction, the current buzz, the E ticket du jour. Guardians of the Galaxy—Mission BREAKOUT has transformed the former Tower of Terror into the hottest Fastpass around. In shimmering gold, red, and blue, the tower stands as the fortress of the Collector, who has imprisoned the Guardians in his tower. Your job? Help Rocket orchestrate a break to release the Guardians from the fortress. The queue leading into the ride features more than 2,200 props, keeping eyes entertained during what is often a lengthy wait for this ultra-popular attraction.
— Jeana Shandraw (@SurfnSunshine) July 6, 2017
Once onboard, the elevator-style ride features multiple randomized story adventures set to a random soundtrack of rocking tunes (our was “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”) with many adrenaline-filled, unexpected, high-speed drops. My little daredevils took the experience in stride while this mama held on for dear life, screaming like a maniac. I have since regained my composure and would definitely go back to check out the other adventures and music! Family consensus: super fun!
Guardians of the Galaxy–Awesome Dance Off
Directly in front of the fortress, cosmic heroes from Guardians of the Galaxy hold a dance party several times daily. Star-Lord cranks out tunes on his beloved old-school boombox, and he and some of the other guardians lead guests in a mildly competitive dance-off while Gamora looks on from the sidelines. The characters kept the energy high, and the audience-participation factor (whether you’re selected to dance with the characters or just remain in the crowd to groove) pumped up my little dancer. There is no line for this event, and it’s a fantastic option for those who love Guardians of the Galaxy but don’t want to brave the ride. Groot himself joins in the dancing at the end, and you can also meet up with him nearby for a meet-and-greet photo encounter.
Avenger Character Encounters
Excuse me while I gush.
On the other side of the Hollywood Backlot, Guardians of the Galaxy buzz morphs into Avenger mania, and this is where you and your brood can get up close and personal with some of your favorite Avengers characters. You will find either Spiderman or Captain America with an awesome movie-set-quality backdrop, ready to interact with your family and snap some great pics. The characters alternate about every 45 minutes, and we waited, fingers crossed, with the hopes of meeting our man Spidey (no offense, Captain), and we succeeded! The kids and I were seriously starstruck!
— Jeana Shandraw (@SurfnSunshine) July 5, 2017
I was impressed that this was not a quick snap of the photo but rather a chance to interact with the character. He chatted with my kids about their superpowers, gave me ultimate props for being a mom (we have innate superpowers, he reminded me!), and encouraged us to strike a fun pose. Keep your eyes open for other great character encounters like Black Widow, too, as she drives her armored vehicle throughout the streets and stops off for crowd photos as well!
Avengers Training Initiative
So, what does it take to be an Avenger? Kids ages 6 to 12 can get a taste of the superhero life during the Avengers Training Initiative, a special Summer of Heroes interactive show, where they appear onstage alongside some favorite Avengers. Child participants start off learning some superhero moves from Black Widow and Hawk Eye at an otherwise peaceful training session but end up putting those skills into action as they help to defend the Avengers’ base, which comes under siege during the course of their training.
This was a total thrill for my kids, who declared it one of the best parts of their Disney visit! Be sure to register your prospective trainees early at the kiosk near Stage 17 in the Hollywood Backlot, as availability is limited.
Full disclosure: this mama is an unabashed foodie. I will gladly spend the day perusing menus and sampling all the eats I can! Disneyland always comes up with delicious and Instagram-worthy grub to add to the themed experience and up the fun factor. So it’s no surprise that I absolutely loved the super selection of heroic foods throughout the Hollywood Backlot. Every menu I encountered featured foods that riffed on the superhero theme, many of the dishes brightly hued and cleverly named.
— Jeana Shandraw (@SurfnSunshine) July 5, 2017
We started our day with a Spider Bite, a cinnamon-infused donut that reminded us of a cronut. Later, we enjoyed a lunch of the Most Dangerous Tacos in the Galaxy (aka barbacoa beef tacos with green onion slaw, purple cabbage, pickled onions, and habanero salsa wrapped in green tortillas) and cooled off with a Spider Venom shaved ice (blue raspberry, cherry, and condensed milk). If you have a soft spot for Groot like we do, you will love the sourdough bread shaped in his likeness (either plain or, our fave, Cheddar-jalapeno) and the adorable Groot sipper cups.
Wrapping Up the Day
As day gives way to night and the Disney parks take on their evening glow, you can enjoy extended summer hours and nighttime fun. The beloved Main Street Electrical Parade continues on its encore run nightly–but only through August 20. I heartily recommend staying for this parade–sharing the nostalgia with my kids warmed my heart–and the always incredible “Remember … Dreams Come True” fireworks display just after the parade.
My kids were totally engaged with their Summer of Heroes visit. We spent about five hours exploring the Summer of Heroes offerings alone, and they never lost interest. Eventually, we moved on to see some of our old favorites throughout the Disney parks, as is tradition, but the kids are still talking about what a blast they had at the Hollywood Backlot alone! The Summer of Heroes continues through September 10.
My family attended a media event hosted by Disneyland Resort. All opinions remain my own.